The design group Civilla, in Michigan, has a new legal/government benefits document design, under the banner Project Re:form, Dismantling the longest Public Benefits application in America.
They used a service/document design process to create a new application form for public benefits in Michigan. You can see the new form and information booklet here, on Michigan’s website.
Civilla began meeting with local residents and caseworkers to hear their stories about navigating Michigan’s public benefits system. The team began ethnographic research in September 2015, spending over 4000 hours at kitchen tables, in living rooms, and in MDHHS offices to listen to those who were closest to the issue. The stories that emerged were harrowing and inspirational, and revealed that the DHS-1171 was a significant hurdle to individuals receiving the state’s most critical services.
Through months of field work, the Civilla team developed a nuanced understanding of the experiences of both residents and caseworkers. The team lifted up these stories in an immersive exhibit that walked State leadership through the full journey of applying for benefits. In parallel, Civilla established relationships with the USDS, Code for America, the Urban Institute, CBPP, and state government agencies to lift up best practices from the US and abroad.